S. Korea’s claim on warning shot firings disputed by Russia

S. Korea’s claim on warning shot firings disputed by Russia
In this June 12, 2019, photo, a woman walks in front of immigration court in Miami. The Trump administration has appointed more than 4 in 10 of the country's sitting immigration judges in a hiring surge that comes as U.S. authorities seek to crack down on immigration. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
In this June 12, 2019, photo, a woman walks in front of immigration court in Miami. The Trump administration has appointed more than 4 in 10 of the country's sitting immigration judges in a hiring surge that comes as U.S. authorities seek to crack down on immigration. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Published August 1
Updated August 9

This image released by Joint Staff, Ministry of Defense, shows Russian A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft flying near the Korean-controlled island called Takeshima in Japanese Tuesday, July 23, 2019. Japan has protested to Russia for allegedly violating Japanese airspace and to South Korea for firing warning shots there. (Joint Staff, Ministry of Defense via AP)
This image released by Joint Staff, Ministry of Defense, shows Russian A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft flying near the Korean-controlled island called Takeshima in Japanese Tuesday, July 23, 2019. Japan has protested to Russia for allegedly violating Japanese airspace and to South Korea for firing warning shots there. (Joint Staff, Ministry of Defense via AP)
This image released by Joint Staff, Ministry of Defense, shows a Chinese H-6 bomber which they said were flying near the Sea of Japan Tuesday, July 23, 2019.  (Joint Staff, Ministry of Defense via AP)
This image released by Joint Staff, Ministry of Defense, shows a Chinese H-6 bomber which they said were flying near the Sea of Japan Tuesday, July 23, 2019. (Joint Staff, Ministry of Defense via AP)
This image released by Joint Staff, Ministry of Defense, shows a Russian Tu-95 bomber which they said were flying near the Sea of Japan Tuesday, July 23, 2019. Japan has protested to Russia for allegedly violating Japanese airspace and to South Korea for firing warning shots there. (Joint Staff, Ministry of Defense via AP)
This image released by Joint Staff, Ministry of Defense, shows a Russian Tu-95 bomber which they said were flying near the Sea of Japan Tuesday, July 23, 2019. Japan has protested to Russia for allegedly violating Japanese airspace and to South Korea for firing warning shots there. (Joint Staff, Ministry of Defense via AP)
Acting Russian Ambassador to South Korea Maxim Volkov, left, and South Korean Deputy Minister for Political Affairs Yoon Soon-gu take their seats before their meeting at the Foreign ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, July 23, 2019. Yoon on Tuesday summoned Volkov to protest the countries' military jets entering South Korea's airspace. (Kim Sung-do/Yonhap via AP)
Acting Russian Ambassador to South Korea Maxim Volkov, left, and South Korean Deputy Minister for Political Affairs Yoon Soon-gu take their seats before their meeting at the Foreign ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, July 23, 2019. Yoon on Tuesday summoned Volkov to protest the countries' military jets entering South Korea's airspace. (Kim Sung-do/Yonhap via AP)
FILE - In this file photo taken on Friday, May 4, 2018, Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers fly past the Russian flag on the Kremlin complex during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia.  South Korean air force jets fired 360 rounds of warning shots after a Russian military plane briefly violated South Korea's airspace twice on Tuesday, Seoul officials said, in the first such incident between the two countries. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)
FILE - In this file photo taken on Friday, May 4, 2018, Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers fly past the Russian flag on the Kremlin complex during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia. South Korean air force jets fired 360 rounds of warning shots after a Russian military plane briefly violated South Korea's airspace twice on Tuesday, Seoul officials said, in the first such incident between the two countries. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)
FILE - In this file photo taken on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, A Russian Beriev A-50 airborne early warning and control training aircraft flies over Red Square during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia.  South Korean air force jets fired 360 rounds of warning shots after a Russian military plane briefly violated South Korea's airspace twice on Tuesday, Seoul officials said, in the first such incident between the two countries. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool, File)
FILE - In this file photo taken on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, A Russian Beriev A-50 airborne early warning and control training aircraft flies over Red Square during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia. South Korean air force jets fired 360 rounds of warning shots after a Russian military plane briefly violated South Korea's airspace twice on Tuesday, Seoul officials said, in the first such incident between the two countries. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool, File)
FILE  In this file photo taken on Saturday, May  7, 2016, Russian the Tu-95 strategic bomber fly over Red Square during the general rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade which will take place at Moscow's Red Square on May 9 to celebrate 71 years after the victory in WWII in Moscow, Russia. South Korean air force jets fired 360 rounds of warning shots after a Russian military plane briefly violated South Korea’s airspace twice on Tuesday, Seoul officials said, in the first such incident between the two countries. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
FILE In this file photo taken on Saturday, May 7, 2016, Russian the Tu-95 strategic bomber fly over Red Square during the general rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade which will take place at Moscow's Red Square on May 9 to celebrate 71 years after the victory in WWII in Moscow, Russia. South Korean air force jets fired 360 rounds of warning shots after a Russian military plane briefly violated South Korea’s airspace twice on Tuesday, Seoul officials said, in the first such incident between the two countries. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
In this April 20, 2017, photo, a South Korean Air Forces' KF-16 fighter takes off at an air base in Gunsan, South Korea. South Korean air force jets fired 360 rounds of warning shots after a Russian military plane briefly violated South Korea's airspace twice on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, Seoul officials said, in the first such incident between the countries. (Kim Jun-beom/Newsis via AP)
In this April 20, 2017, photo, a South Korean Air Forces' KF-16 fighter takes off at an air base in Gunsan, South Korea. South Korean air force jets fired 360 rounds of warning shots after a Russian military plane briefly violated South Korea's airspace twice on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, Seoul officials said, in the first such incident between the countries. (Kim Jun-beom/Newsis via AP)
FILE - In this April 28, 2005, file photo, a South Korean coast guard looks at Dokdo islets, known as
FILE - In this April 28, 2005, file photo, a South Korean coast guard looks at Dokdo islets, known as "Takeshima" in Japanese, through a telescope on the patrol ship Sambong-ho on the East Sea, South Korea. South Korean jets fired warning shots after a Russian military plane violated South Korea's airspace on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, Seoul officials said, in the first such incident between the countries. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean air force jets fired 360 rounds of warning shots Tuesday after a Russian military plane twice violated South Korea's airspace off the country's east coast, Seoul officials said in an announcement that was quickly disputed by Russia.

South Korea said three Russian military planes — two Tu-95 bombers and one A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft — entered the South's air defense identification zone off its east coast before the A-50 intruded in South Korean airspace. Russia said later that two of its Tu-95MS bombers were on a routine flight over neutral waters and didn't enter South Korean territory.

According to South Korean government accounts, an unspecified number of South Korean fighter jets, including F-16s, scrambled to the area and fired 10 flares and 80 rounds from machine guns as warning shots.

Seoul defense officials said the Russian reconnaissance aircraft left the area three minutes later but later returned and violated South Korean airspace again for four minutes. The officials said the South Korean fighter jets then fired 10 flares and 280 rounds from machine guns as warning shots.

South Korea said it was the first time a foreign military plane had violated South Korean airspace since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry and the Joint Chiefs of Staff summoned Russia's acting ambassador and its defense attache to protest.

Russia's Defense Ministry said in a statement that its planes did not enter South Korean airspace. It also said South Korean fighter jets didn't fire any warning shots, though it said they flew near the Russian planes in what it called "unprofessional maneuvers" and posed a threat.

"If the Russian pilots felt there was a security threat, they would have responded," the statement said.

South Korea's presidential national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, told top Russian security official Nikolai Patrushev that South Korea views Russia's airspace violation "very seriously" and will take "much stronger" measures if a similar incident occurs, according to South Korea's presidential office.

Pavel Felgenhauer, an independent Russian military analyst, told The Associated Press he believed the incursion could have been a navigation mistake. He also suggested the incident would not have serious consequences because "South Korea right now is not very interested in pressing this into a kind of long-term worsening of relations."

The former Soviet Union supported North Korea and provided the country with weapons during the Korean War, which killed millions. In 1983, a Soviet air force fighter jet fired an air-to-air missile at a South Korean passenger plane that strayed into Soviet territory, killing all 269 people on board. Relations between Seoul and Moscow gradually improved, and they established diplomatic ties in 1990, a year before the breakup of the Soviet Union.

The airspace that South Korea says the Russian warplane violated is above a group of South Korean-held islets roughly halfway between South Korea and Japan that have been a source of territorial disputes between the two Asian countries. Russia isn't part of those disputes.

Japan, which claims ownership over the islets, protested to South Korea for firing warning shots over Japanese airspace. South Korea later countered that it cannot accept the Japanese statement, repeating that the islets are South Korean territory. Japan also protested to Russia for allegedly violating Japanese airspace.

South Korea said the three Russian planes entered the South Korean air defense identification zone with two Chinese bombers. South Korea said the Chinese planes didn't intrude upon South Korean airspace.

The Russian statement accused South Korean aircraft of trying to hamper the flights of Russian jets before "a vague missile defense identification area" that it said South Korea unilaterally defined. Russia said it had raised its concerns about the zone before.

Before their reported joint flights with the Russian planes, the Chinese warplanes entered South Korea's air defense identification zone off its southwest coast earlier Tuesday, South Korea's Defense Ministry said. Seoul says Chinese planes have occasionally entered South Korea's air defense identification zone in recent years.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry and Joint Chiefs of Staff registered their official protests with Beijing when they summoned China's ambassador and defense attache.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she was not clear about the situation but noted that the air defense identification zone is not territorial airspace and others are entitled to fly through it.

She took issue with a reporter's use of the word "violation" to ask about China's reported activity in South Korea's air defense identification zone. "I feel that given China and South Korea are friendly neighbors, you should be careful when using it, because we are not clear about the situation," she said.

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Associated Press writers Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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